II. THE OBJECT OF THE CLEARANCE OF THE PAST
[What are the things of the past that need to be cleared away after we are saved? What are the objects which must be ended and cleared up? Altogether there are four categories: 1) unrighteous matters, 2) improper matters, 3) evil and unclean matters, 4) old ways of living. After we have been saved, there needs to be a clearing up and conclusion of these matters.] Sometimes we may do these things after we have been saved. The same principle applies in both cases.
A. Unrighteous Matters
[ Unrighteous means unjust, illegal. All we have obtained in the past by unjust, illegal means, such as stealing, swindling, taking by force, encroaching upon others’ properties, keeping things that have been lost by others, not returning things that were borrowed long ago, and all illegitimate relations with others and unjust dealings toward others—all these unrighteous matters—are things we should clear up.]
B. Improper Matters
[Improper and unrighteous are close in meaning, and yet they are different. Unrighteous means that the method by which a certain thing is obtained, or the relationship of a certain matter, is unjust or illegal. Improper means that the very nature of a certain thing or matter is improper or indecent. For instance, things used in gambling and drinking can be bought and obtained by legal means; but these things are used for gambling and drinking. Since both gambling and drinking are improper and indecent, the very nature of these things is also improper and indecent. Furthermore, neither smoking nor reading obscene novels can be said to be unrighteous, but surely they are immoral and improper. All these improper matters are also things we should put to an end.]
C. Evil and Unclean Matters
[Evil and unclean matters are things related to idols, such as graven or portrait idols, clothing with the image of the dragon; writings of worldly religions; unclean things, such as books on horoscope, charms, etc.; also evil and unclean things, such as worshiping idols, worshiping ancestors, divining, fortune-telling, etc. These are hated by God even more than the things in the first two categories, and they are certainly intolerable to the life within us, which is holy and clean. Therefore, even more so must these things be thoroughly put to an end.]
D. Old Ways of Living
[Old ways of living refer to our entire old manner of living before we were saved. After we are saved, we should not only put an end to all unrighteous, improper, and evil and unclean matters, but we must also put an end to our whole former manner of living and have a new beginning.
How then should we regard the ending of the old human living and beginning of the new? We are not saying that after a person is regenerated he should change his present occupation—stop going to school, close his business, ignore caring for his family—and go out preaching. The ending of the old human living means that after a person is regenerated, he may continue in his original profession, provided that it is proper, but the taste within him is changed, his mood is changed, and his feeling is changed. No matter what a person does before he is regenerated, his taste, his mood, and his feeling are all toward the world, all desiring to accomplish something in the world. The more he works, the more he relishes his work and the deeper he enters into it. But after regeneration, when God’s life enters into him, that taste within him becomes tasteless, that mood is changed, and his feeling is also changed. He even has a different taste for eating, clothing, and other daily necessities. In this sense, his old way of living is ended, and his old life comes to a conclusion.]
A good number of our young people may have been saved when they were very young; therefore, they may not have experienced many of the things unsaved people do. Yet, the old way of living is always lurking about us, waiting for an opportunity to bring us under its influence in the guise of peer pressure, such as: joking to hurt one another’s feelings, using foul abusive language, slang words, talk and behavior concerning boy-girl relationships, trendy clothing, music that stirs up the flesh, looking down on students with good grades, rebellious attitudes towards people in authority, etc. We must be watchful in order to remain unaffected by the worldly people’s old way of living. We must develop a new way of living, a way in spirit.
[This ending of the old way of living is a preliminary experience of a Christian, yet it has a deep effect upon his future walk with the Lord. When our old way of living comes to an end, our ambition and interest in the world are changed, our estimation and point of view toward men and all matters are also changed, and our purpose in life is different than before. Thus we can escape from all anxieties, leave all our burdens behind, and run the race in the way of the Lord.]
(Lesson Book, Level 4: Life—Knowing and Experiencing Life, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)